A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Thursday, March 1, 2012

For Saint David's Day: Cymru fo an bidh!

Every March 17 since this blog started I've posted my annual "Saint Patrick and the Middle East" post, which is based on real connections between Egyptian and Irish monks in the days of early Christianity (you thought it was a coincidence that Celts and Copts both use the standing wheeled cross?). I haven't got anything remotely comparable for Saint David's day (today, the day of the patron saint of Wales), except that Suzanne Mubarak had a Welsh mother, which would make Gamal Mubarak a quarter Welsh, but neither of them is likely to wear a leek today unless they're looking to emigrate, which they may well be. Though I'm thinking their tastes run more to London than Cardiff.

The only other anecdote I can link (at second hand) to Wales: I once told the story of calling a friend in Pennsylvania from Abu Dhabi; when I told him I was in Abu Dhabi, he said I should drop by, thinking I'd said Upper Darby, a suburb of Philadelphia. When I told that story on the blog, a Welsh reader posted that when he was growing up he recalled hearing of neighbors going off to take jobs in Abu Dhabi, and he just assumed it was somewhere in Wales, akin to Aberystwyth and Aberporth and other Aber- Welsh place names.

So if neither of those points is enough of a Middle East connection, I'll simply claim the right to wish you a happy Saint David's Day through my Welsh great-great-grandfather. His name, of course, was David Jones, like half the males in Wales around 1800. (The other half were named David Evans.) True, he emigrated to Ireland, but at least he was from Wales.

And what better way to say Cymru fo an bidh (Welsh for Eireann go bragh, or "Wales forever" if you prefer) than a very young Charlotte Church backed up by a full Welsh men's choir singing "Men of Harlech?" (Well, there's the "Men of Harlech" scene in the movie Zulu, as well, but Church's voice was so crystalline at this age.) Listening to this will make anybody Welsh, at least on Saint David's Day. Don't quit before the men's choir kicks in.

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